Before The Waltons was officially The Waltons, America got their first look at the down-home family from The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.
The made-for-TV movie spurred the series to come to life. It was so well-received that CBS just had to try out a season. Looking back, that was a very good decision, wouldn’t you say Outsiders? Thanks to Judy Norton and her YouTube channel we know so much more about The Waltons and the history behind it.
The Homecoming, for the most part, set up the characters for the series. However, not everyone kept their role from the movie to the series. Ep Bridges was played by David Huddleston in the movie. Later, in the series played A.J. Covington in the episode The Literary Man.
Ep Bridges was a big part of the movie. His scenes were some of the most well-shot. Norton pointed out a scene when Bridges is interacting with Ike. The shopkeeper keeps about his tasks, cutting bologna and cheese, weighing it out, scuttling around the area. All shot with basically one camera, one scene. Just those little things that made it all more real and immersive.
Speaking of immersion, The Waltons star, Norton, has a lot of insight. Thankfully, she has taken the time to break things down for fans so we know more about the lore and history of the show and the movie that started it all.
‘The Homecoming’ Shot On Location for Snow Scenes
Now, Outsiders, when we talk about modern shows like Yellowstone or 1883 being shot on location, it surprises us. In modern times we don’t see much of that. However, for the movie that led to The Waltons series, shooting on location was no unusual thing.
Judy Norton remembers filming The Homecoming in October and November 1971. There wasn’t a fancy set built to look like a town or the homestead in sunny California. They went up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in order to get the opening sequence filmed. The family is walking through deep snow and that’s all real.
Now, the inside scenes were filmed in California, however, to get that realistic element of early 1900s Wyoming, the cast went through a lot in order to land those scenes. I’m sure if they could do it all over, they’d do it just the same.
If it wasn’t for Homecoming being so successful, we wouldn’t have The Waltons and one of the most famous phrases of the 1970s.
‘The Waltons’ Richard Thomas is Proud to be John Boy
Look, even if you don’t watch The Waltons (why wouldn’t you?) you likely know one line from the show. It was said at the end of every episode. “Good night, John Boy.” While the Waltons got comfy and warm in bed at the end of each episode we hear the many good nights throughout the home.
However, none was as catchy and iconic as, “Good night, John Boy.” It became a pop culture phenomenon. It was good for saying goodbye, telling someone good night, or telling them to beat it, but perhaps in a nicer way.
Looking back on his role, Richard Thomas says, “I’m proud to be associated with it,” and the older he gets, “the happier it makes me.”